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Aquaria’s win on RuPaul’s Drag Race shows that NYC queens reign supreme

Written by
David Goldberg

A record-long run of RuPaul’s Drag Race concluded yesterday in triumph for NYC. For those of us who have crowded local bars since January (this run has certainly lasted longer than any relationship I've had), last night's finale certainly was cause for shrieks of joy, as 22 year-old NYC fashion savant Aquaria reached apotheosis and was led to the halls of Drag-halla. 

In a thrilling three-way lip-sync for the crown, Aquaria faced off against the star of the season, Eureka, along with Kameron Michaels, who, with an unpredicted win in her first round, was triggering all sorts of flashbacks to those election parties that went horribly wrong in 2016. Fortunately, RuPaul proved that executive power can be used for the greater good, and bumped up both Eureka and Aquaria (deservedly) to the top three. Wearing a resplendent cape of golden stars for her final battle, she brought precision and perfection to her lip sync of "Bang Bang," a fitting cap to a stellar season. 

This is the third win in a row for NYC and the fourth total, with Bianca del Rio (season six), Bob the Drag Queen (season eight) and Sasha Velour (season nine) holding crowns for the city. The chances were indeed high that one of our girls would make it to the top, with an unprecedented five NYC queens in the season 10 mix. But Aquaria really fought for this one, while her sisters were taken down by stress, sponges and inner saboteurs. 

Radiating with the polish of Sasha Velour and the youthful verve of Adore Delano, Aquaria promises to represent NYC's current drag epoch of creativity and expression on a global stage. With celebrations like Bushwig and LadyLand pumping diverse, be-glittered blood into the global consciousness, it's no wonder that NYC has Drag Race in the bag yet again. Aquaria looks like a damn superhero; what better city for an origin story than New York? 

I will admit that I was rooting for Eureka. I think that she had the clearest narrative of the season, and would have really represented something different as the current face of American drag. I spoke with Bob the Drag Queen and Sasha Velour during their respective reigning years and saw them as perfectly balanced: Bob brought activism back to drag, just in time to face a new tyranny; and Sasha reminded us that art and intellect can and should prevail, especially in an era of rage-based political strife. Eureka would have complemented Sasha's icy specificity nicely; a much-needed, sequin-stacked bear hug. 

What's more, this third win in a row will only make it more difficult for NYC girls to take the crown in future seasons. I know I'm being selfish with this one, but I just really want my fantasies of Brita Filter and Ruby Fox snatching the crown to come true. 

That said, I have no doubt that Aquaria will continue to surprise us, as she has all season. Her powers are only expanding—nothing stands in her way. When war comes, we can rally behind a leader who doesn't flinch under the weight of her cape, crown and scepter. 

If you're still craving top-notch Drag Race discourse, check out Time Out etiquette queen Amanda Duarte's legendary recaps at The New York Times, along with Vulture's excellent commentary, written by cultural arbiters Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers

Last week, we celebrated Pride in NYC. With last night's win for Aquaria, I think a second weekend of partying is well-deserved. To the moon, children!

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